Is tooth pain caused from grinding my teeth or something else?

I’m a teeth grinder at night. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember, but up until now everything has been fine with my teeth (at my check-up and cleaning several months ago there were no issues).  But something has changed in the last month or so and I am noticing a dull pain (almost like a pulling sensation) in my lower back teeth. It doesn’t last for long periods of time, but it comes and goes on both sides. I thought maybe it could be a cavity, but I’ve never had one before so don’t know what kind of pain is associated with them. I am also concerned that it could it be related to grinding and clenching my teeth? What should I do?  — Marissa

Marissa,
If you grind your teeth, everything is not fine. It’s hard to say what exactly is causing this pain you are experiencing without seeing x-rays or examining your mouth. What is concerning is it sounds like your recent check-up and examination with your dentist may not have been very thorough. Unfortunately, there are many dentists who are just looking for the obvious issues like cavities, fillings, etc. There are other important things they should be looking for during this examination such as TMJ symptoms or periodontal disease.

As for the pain you are experiencing, it does not seem consistent with a cavity. It could be from gum disease or a result of your teeth grinding. But to be sure, you need to get a proper diagnosis. If it’s grinding, you could get a night guard. If it’s something more serious, you need to start treatment right away.  A second opinion from someone other than your regular dentist might be in order.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

Sensitive teeth are affecting my health. Will Lumineers help?

My teeth are extremely sensitive, making it difficult to eat and drink certain foods and beverages. It’s starting to affect my health because I am struggling to keep my body nourished. Would getting Lumineers help with the sensitivity and get me back on the road to feeling normal and healthy?  — Sara

Sara,
Lumineers or other brands of porcelain veneers can help treat sensitivity. But before you make any decisions on this type of treatment or smile makeover, it is very important that you consult with an experienced cosmetic dentist who can get to the bottom of why your teeth are so sensitive and make a thorough diagnosis.

Sensitivity can be caused by several things, including:

  • Leaky fillings
  • Sensitive spots on the root of your tooth
  • A mis-aligned bite
  • Tooth decay
  • Teeth grinding

Sometimes a patient with sensitivity wanting porcelain veneers may need to get root canal treatment on the front teeth.  With today’s modern advances and a good cosmetic dentist doing the work, they can assure the tooth won’t fracture later and the end result will be a beautiful smile and no more sensitivity.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

I’m pregnant… will removing amalgam filling harm my baby?

I’m in the last few weeks of my pregnancy and just found out that I have a crack in a tooth with an old large silver filling. My dentist says I need to have the old amalgam removed right away. I am afraid to have this done — I don’t want to expose my baby to mercury vapors. The problem is that my tooth is really hurting, and I’m prone to abscesses. I’m not sure if I should stick it out and wait until after the baby is born or take care of it now.  — Angela

Dear Angela,
I definitely understand your apprehension, and depending on the professional you talk to you may get a difference of opinion. There are many mercury-free dentists that fully denounce the use of amalgam fillings, citing that they release harmful mercury vapors into your body, thus causing a host of toxicities and health problems. A conventional dentist might claim there is no strong evidence to support that concern. There have been a lot of published studies that concluded that fillings containing mercury pose no health risk, except in the extremely rare case that a patient is allergic to them. You can pick your side of the debate.

All parties will likely agree not to remove amalgams during pregnancy, as the removal process could expose you or your baby to more mercury than you would come in contact with as a result of keeping them in. However, in your case, especially if your amalgam is cracked and leaking, and you may be at risk for further infection, problems and pain, it may be the better idea. Just be vigilant that your doctor follows the specific protocols in place for removing amalgam fillings safely to minimize inhalation of mercury vapor.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

Are numb fingers a symptom of TMJ?

I grind my teeth and I know that it is the main reason for most of my TMJ problems. I’ve had symptoms such as facial pain, stiff jaw, and ringing in my ear, so I sought treatment and did splint therapy to help. Recently, I’ve noticed numbness or a “pins and needles” feeling in a few fingers – almost as if they are asleep. Someone told me that is another symptom of TMJ, but I guess I don’t get how they are connected. Right now, I have literally no TMJ pain. Are my numb fingers a new symptom? — Mike in Florida

Dear Mike,
What you are experiencing with your fingers could no doubt be connected to your TMJ and about half of all TMJ patients also experience it. You may be wondering how it is connected, but think about it… when your bite is misaligned (as in the case of a TMJ patient), your muscles can spasm. A misaligned jaw can cause problems down through all your extremities because all of our muscles are connected. When you have spasms in your face, shoulders, or neck from TMJ, it can pinch nerves and affect the arms and fingers periodically with sensations of numbness or tingling. This can happen even if you are not experiencing any of your other normal TMJ symptoms. You should make an appointment you’re your doctor to discuss this new symptom so he can evaluate your situation.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.